"Photograph by Patricia Glen" There was considerable growing world-wide interest in bladder and anorectal function and dysfunction in the first half of the 20th Century. There was also a growing interest in the use of electrical stimulation to improve continence of urine and bowel. Lack of agreement on terminology meant that many workers were just talking past each other and the need for standardisation was apparent. There was an enthusiasm to increase international collaboration. Many units found enormous value in interdisciplinary collaboration between clinicians and engineers.
It was against this background that Eric Glen received warm support when he proposed establishing the Continent Club, the precursor of ICS. His project resulted from a light-hearted conversation when visiting Professor Aboulker in Paris. Peter Gammelgaard in Copenhagen, Peter Caldwell in Exeter, and Richard Turner Warwick in London, supported the proposal, and Peter Caldwell agreed to preside over the first meeting, which was held in Exeter in 1971. With Peter as president, Shedden Alexander, a Glasgow surgeon, as vice-president and Eric as organizing secretary, the meeting was attended by over 50 participants from several countries, and it was hailed as a great success both socially and scientifically. At the business meeting, members decided to change the name to International Continence Society. At the same meeting Dr Smeekes from The Hague, emphasised the importance of standardising the nomenclature used in urodynamics.
At the third ICS conference held in Copenhagen in 1973, Tage Hald was elected first chairman of the ICS Standardisation Committee. His committee published the first ICS reports between 1976 and 1981. The society has gone on to publish many reports and retains the copyright enabling them to be published in a range of international journals.
Around 1977, recognising the great increase in members from North America, a number of whom were members of the Urodynamics Society (UDS, later renamed the Society for Urodynamics and Female Urology or SUFU), Norman Zinner proposed that ICS should hold a joint meeting with UDS. Members agreed, and the first joint meeting was held in Los Angeles in 1980, chaired by Norman. Subsequent joint meetings were held in Aachen, 1983, and Boston, 1986.
It was decided at the Exeter meeting in 1971, that the ICS should have neither a permanent president nor chairman, but that the chairman would change each year and the post be held by the host for the annual scientific meeting. Continuity was provided by the Honorary Secretary whose term of office was not limited at first. Eric Glen served from 1971 to 1985. The second General Secretary Paul Abrams, served from 1985 to 2003.
Since then the ICS has grown from strength to strength, boasting a membership of over 2000 from 80 different countries covering many disciplines including physicians, surgeons, nurses, physicists, physiotherapists, bio-engineers and scientists. ICS became a registered UK Charity in 1998.
At the 2008 AGM after an extensive review, the leadership structure was changed once more. A large Board of Trustees was selected to lead the society, chaired by the General Secretary. There were many changes to the Articles and Bylaws. Terms of office-bearing were limited to 3 years. The aims of these changes were to reflect the wishes of the Membership for greater democracy with much shorter terms of office and rotating positions.
Ted Arnold, Eric Glen and Norman Zinner
13th August 2009